2015 Top 40, Part 4.

So, we’re into the final stretch!

10: Shakespears Sister – Stay. (427 Plays)

Shakespears Sister as we all know and love them formed in 1989, however, Siobhan Fahey (formerly of Bananarama) had started a year previous using the name to perform under. ’89 was when she was joined by Marcella Detroit, owner of the longest legs ever. (You need to be aware of Marcella Detroit solo album cover art to get that joke. So no, no one got it). Taking their name from a lyric by The Smiths, they had moderate success until they went super famous for 8 weeks at the top of the UK charts with ‘Stay’, in 1992. A year later, Marcella left to pursue a successful solo career and Siobhan continued under the name for a few more years as a solo artist. (I think she did use it again in the late 2008/2009).

Stay is the result of two people perfectly suited to make music together. Siobhan has a wonderfully deep range, and Marcella can hit high notes like a fat kid gets hit for eating too much cake. Seriously, she destroys high notes. Like Jonny in the Karate Kid when he gets told to sweep the leg. NO MERCY! Or, in a similar theme, she might be the guy that runs the Cobra Kai Dojo, John Creese, and the high notes are the lives of children under his supervision. He. Ruins. Them. What the fuck am I even talking about.

Look at that, someone bothered to put it in widescreen. Also, watch The Karate Kid sometime, it’s still good. In fact, it’s the best. Around.

Also, if you ever want a good laugh, Cher Lloyd covered the song for one of her many awful displays on X-Factor or whatever. You’ll notice a distinct absence of one particular note. The song without that note loses a lot of what makes it special. But then, that’s what you get if you’re not Marcella Detroit, roundhouse kicking high notes into the faces of children that just wanted somewhere to belong, somewhere to learn Karate. He really messed those kids up. Silly John Creese.

9: Jimmy Eat World – The Middle (506 Plays)

The Middle is, for me, one of the greatest songs ever. It’s perfect. I’m going to do an awful job explaining this, but it IS perfect. I’ve always thought that it was more impressive for being on their fourth album, Bleed American. It’s a great album. It’s not often a band produces it’s best work almost a decade after releasing their debut. Anyway. The song. It’s perfect.

First you have that insanely catchy hook, followed by a great, layered guitar riff with the driving bass. Superb lyrics arrive and you’re in song heaven. “It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else” is something to live by. I don’t know anything that’s better advice. The way it’s sung fits perfectly, the solo is cool as fuck and to top it all off it has an amazingly simple, effective video.

Remember, live right now, just be yourself, it doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.

8: Leah McFall – R.I.P. (562 Plays)

Leah came to the limelight after being robbed of victory on the… second? season of The Voice. She lost to a blind girl that everyone felt sorry for. I’m not unsympathetic to the fact she’s got eyesight issues, but voting for someone because you feel sorry for them isn’t helping them, it’s handing them something they don’t fully deserve and essentially heaping pity on them. Those people seemed to forget that the program was called THE VOICE. Yeah, it was definitely called The Voice, and not “THE LACK OF EYESIGHT”. Leah’s voice is incredible. You should feel free to search her on YouTube as she has some great videos on there. Also, watch her perform Minnie Ripperton’s Loving You. It’s breathtaking.

This is a cover of the Rita Ora song. It’s not often I prefer a cover to the original, which I think I already said, but, much like Lorde, Leah really ripped this a new one. It’s made even better by the fact that the backing is mostly done by a dude beat-boxing. (BeatFox, he’s good). You know what, here’s the Minnie Ripperton cover.

And here, for comparison, is Andrea Begley, the blind girl she lost to…

Well done, morons.

Actually, wait a fucking minute. Blind girl also beat Cleo Higgins that year. She wasn’t as good as Leah, but she still sang the fuck out of everything she did. Here is her audition…

Yes. That is the girl from Cleopatra, coming at ya!

In many ways, this is worse than what Hitler did to the Jews.

7: Whitney Houston – I Have Nothing. (598 Plays)

There’s not much I can say about this really. My music taste was shaped about 95% by my family when I was younger. I was lucky to have 4 people around me, all with different tastes. In my Mum’s corner, she had Whitney. I was really sad when she died, and not just because of the circumstances and what tragically followed, but because she was a woman that had shaped my taste. Her voice is amazing, and when she was on top form, no one else really came close. It was upsetting really that it all went the way that it did for her. I still listen to her often though, as this clearly shows. Not just this song, mind you. If someone ever asked me for a textbook example of a perfect pop song, I’d say “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”.

And, at the danger of starting another talent show rant, you’ll notice it’s rare people attempt this song. Usually because when they do, they realise they can’t sing.

6: Stephen Lynch – Little Tiny Mustache. (617 Plays)

I love me some bad taste, and this is wonderfully written. Stephen Lynch has many bad taste songs, but this is far and away the stand out. Not because it’s the most awful, but because it’s simply the funniest. It’s taken from his album, The Craig Machine, which came out around 2005. It was his second live album, and third album overall. His work is always well written, but there’s something standout about this track.

“You’re either gonna like this song, or kick my ass after the show!”.

5: Mazzy Star – Still Cold. (644 Plays)

It wasn’t until Mazzy Star released their third album, Among My Swan, that I really paid them any attention. It was when I heard Still Cold for the first time. I’d heard Fade Into You, much like everyone else, with it being the one song that received notable attention during the mid-nineties. I don’t know why I hadn’t got hooked until that point, but there was something special about Still Cold. I don’t think it’s their best song, and I don’t think I could choose, but Hope Sandoval’s voice is beautiful on every track. For some reason, Still Cold has always stood out to me.

You’ve all probably heard her voice and not even realised it, to be honest. It’s pretty distinctive, but maybe not instantly recognisable from the example above. Paradise Circus… Massive Attack… Here, I’ll help you…

You lucky people. (Also, yes, that’s the song used for Luther).

4: Portishead – Roads (Live at The Roseland, NYC) (762 Plays)

Why hello there, favourite ever song! So yeah, this is my number 1, all time fave song. I’ve probably banged on about this track enough that you’re all sick of me doing so. In terms of live performances, there is very little that can touch this, and it’s an amazing sight to see it all come together like it does. Beth’s voice is perfect, almost identical to what it is on the album, Dummy, which is AMAZING. The whole performance is just perfect, and with the live orchestra, the atmosphere and the ‘in the round’ staging, it’s just all taken to another level.

This is why it’s my fave song ever. Ever.

3: David Guetta – She Wolf. (788 Plays)

You might not have seen this one coming. Ok, probably time to confess that I’m a Sia fan. I love her voice. I genuinely don’t remember listening to this so much, so it was probably much earlier in the year and I probably binged it. This is a great song the use as an example of how the right voice can completely transform it. I think any other singer couldn’t do it justice. No only from a technical aspect, but from the idea that she drives it. Sure, there are parts that are vocal free, but those bits rely on a much harder bass line to keep your attention. When that subsides you’re back with a much more subtle piece of music and just Sia, belting it out like it’s the last chance she’ll ever get to sing. Something I think she excels at.

She has better songs than this, but her voice on this is stunning.

2: Sia – Elastic Heart. (1129 Plays)

There’s danger of a rant here. *calms* Elastic Heart is an amazing track taken from her sixth album, yes, SIXTH album, 1000 Forms of Fear. It’s a fantastic album and I suggest you get it. Essentially, at it’s simplest it’s a chronicle of Sia’s struggle with being bipolar and her drug addiction. It’s a lyrically beautiful set of songs and isn’t something that should be missed.

Anyway, where were we, yes, Elastic Heart. Unfortunately, due to what happened when the video was released, we’re not gonna find much time to talk about the song itself. Let’s watch it shall we…

So, there we go. One of the best music videos of the last couple of years. Where could you possibly find fault with it? Oh yeah, if you suggest that there’s something overly sexual about it. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, the only way to suggest that this video is sexual is that you find it sexual yourself. I put it to you, that there’s nothing wrong with the video, but that the error lies within yourselves, you mongs.

I think the video is amazing. It’s a well choreographed slice of contemporary dance. It fits the song, the contrast of Maddie to Shia is fantastic, the setting adds to the overall theatre of the piece and the starkness of the whole thing is brilliant. To suggest that there’s something paedophillic about it is just wrong. This is the price we pay for unleashing something like this on lesser minds though. They’re too literal and it’s not meant to be taken that way. Just because you’re offended, it doesn’t make you right, you fucking cretins.

1: Sia – Chandelier. (1503 Plays)

So I listened to this far too much last year. The theme of the albums sits strong here. Chandelier is very much a crowd pleaser and one I imagine the meaning of gets ignored in favour of the fact it’s an amazing track to just listen to. It is a belter. Sia’s voice is amazing as always, but more notably on point than usual. It’s a stunning display of vocal talent. Again, we have an amazing video. The entire album, promotion of it, and touring for it was like one long production, essentially casting the stupidly talented Maddie Ziegler almost as Sia’s representative for the duration.

I think what I find special about Sia’s voice is that it’s more real. When you take an incredible vocalist like Whitney, you’re impressed because it almost feels unobtainable. When I hear Sia sing, it makes me feel like I could do it.

Stunning. (Incidentally, I think Elastic Heart is a meatier song, I just love singing this).

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